Coolie (1983 Hindi film)

Coolie (Hindi: कूली, Urdu: قلی, lit. 'Porter') is a 1983 Indian Bollywood action comedy film, directed by Manmohan Desai and written by Kader Khan. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan as Iqbal Aslam Khan, a railway coolie, with supporting roles played by Rishi Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri, Kader Khan, Waheeda Rehman, Suresh Oberoi and Puneet Issar.

Film poster
Directed byManmohan Desai
Produced byKetan Desai
Written byKader Khan
Smt. Jeevanprabha M. Desai
K.K. Shukla
StarringAmitabh Bachchan
Rishi Kapoor
Shoma Anand
Rati Agnihotri
Kader Khan
Waheeda Rehman
Puneet Issar
Satyendra Kapoor
Nilu Phule
Music byLaxmikant-Pyarelal
CinematographyPeter Pereira
Edited byHrishikesh Mukherjee
Distributed byAasia Films Pvt. Ltd.
M.K.D. Films Combine
Release date
  • 2 December 1983 (1983-12-02)
Running time
167 minutes
Box officeest. ₹18 crore[1]

The film made over ₹10 million per territory, a rare achievement for the time[2] and was a huge blockbuster.[3] The film is infamous for a fight scene with co-star Puneet Issar, during which Amitabh Bachchan had a near-fatal injury due to a mistimed jump.


A wealthy, but evil man named Zafar Khan (Kadar Khan), has fallen in love with a girl named Salma (Waheeda Rehman) and wants to marry her, but she and her father do not let him. Zafar is arrested for various crimes and is imprisoned for 10 years, but when he is released, he sees that Salma is married to a good man named Aslam Khan (Satyendra Kapoor). Zafar Khan wants to convince Salma to marry him but Salma refuses. Zafar murders Salma's father and plots his revenge by flooding the region in which Salma lives, nearly killing Aslam and injuring Salma, causing her to lose her memory. During this catastrophe, Salma is also separated from her young son, Iqbal (Amitabh Bachchan). On a railway platform, Iqbal attempts to go after her on foot while Salma is on a train, but he slips and the train leaves the platform. Zafar abducts Salma and tells the world she is his wife. He also adopts an infant from an orphanage in Kanpur, a boy named Sunny (Rishi Kapoor), for Salma to raise on the advice of a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Iqbal is reunited with his uncle, who has lost his wife and son in the flood. In the process of a heated fight, Iqbal's uncle has lost his right arm, to which Iqbal tells him he will serve as his uncle's right arm from the present onward. The uncle will raise Iqbal as his own, as they have no more family. In the events of the flood, Iqbal's uncle's wife and son were killed.

Years pass, and Iqbal and his uncle work as coolies. Iqbal has grown up to be a dashing, confident young man, and is considered the leader of the local coolies. During an incident with a man named Mr. Puri, a coolie is beaten up badly, to which Iqbal is infuriated. Mr. Puri is beaten up, but Iqbal is wrongfully imprisoned for his actions. On the same day, however, he is set free. He organises a labour strike, which brings the station to its knees. Sunny, a young, budding reporter, is covering the story. While speaking to Sunny, Iqbal sees a picture of Sunny's mother who turns out to be Salma. In another attempt to get Salma back, Iqbal rushes to her house to bring her back after all these years, but, to his horror, Salma does not recognize him. Zafar is infuriated at Iqbal's trespass. His crooks, disguised as police officers, near-fatally beat Iqbal, while he takes Salma to the psychiatrist to administer electric shocks on her so that her memory never returns. Sunny threatens to publish all of Zafar's crimes in the newspapers the following day if he does not return Salma to him.

Iqbal and Sunny become friends, and both find love; Iqbal with a Christian girl Julie D'Costa (Rati Agnihotri) and Sunny with his childhood sweetheart, Deepa (Shoma Anand). Meanwhile, Aslam has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. When he is finally let out, Julie tries to kill him in a graveyard because she thought he had murdered her father, John D'Costa (Amrish Puri), but, as the revolver is empty, she cannot fire. Aslam explains that Zafar had murdered her father, and framed Aslam, to which Julie believes him. Things are looking up, but the coolies uncover a banking and housing scandal against them. After a series of run-ins with the corrupt parties, Iqbal finds himself in a fight to the death with Zafar. Salma returns at a very pivotal scene in the film, during the election standoff between the communist workers under Iqbal and the capitalist lords under Zafar with her old memories intact and she publicly testifies against Zafar and how he destroyed her family. In the crowd is an old man, who turns out to be Iqbal's long-lost father Aslam. Also, Iqbal's uncle recognises a birthmark on Sunny, proving that Sunny was indeed the son he thought he had lost in the great flood. The family is reunited, much to the fury of Zafar, who then proceeds to shoot Iqbal's beloved mamu (uncle) who cared for him in his youth. Zafar then abducts Salma. Iqbal and Sunny both chase after the evildoers, killing Mr. Puri and Vicky in the process, until Iqbal corners Zafar in a masjid. The holy shroud from the dargah shrine flies onto Iqbal's chest, and Iqbal defiantly faces Zafar with the belief in God's protection from harm with His name on his chest. He is shot several times by Zafar, but he continues to chase Zafar up the minaret, saying a part of the shahada with each shot. With the last of his strength, he cries the takbir and pushes Zafar off the parapet, killing him instantly, and Iqbal collapses into his mother's arms. Coolies from all faiths pray hard for his recovery, and Iqbal recovers from his injuries. He is brought back to life again.


With the death of Mohammed Rafi, the favourite singer of Manmohan Desai, Shabbir Kumar, a singer who cloned Mohd. Rafi was used to sing for Amitabh Bahchcan in the movie. Shabbir Kumar had his first time singing for Amitabh Bachchan since Kishore Kumar wasn't able and refused to sing for Amitabh Bachchan due to some issues.


The script was written by Kader Khan, who also stars as the film's antagonist. In addition to having Bachchan play a Muslim protagonist, Khan incorporated elements of Islamic Sufi mysticism into the script, including various Sufi motifs and references.[4]

Before the film started Bachchan asked Kannada legendary actor Rajkumar to make his cameo in the film.[5][6] There was a mutual respect between Amitabh and Rajkumar and they were both admirers of each other.


The film became famous even before its release when Amitabh Bachchan was critically injured on 26 July 1982 in the intestines while filming a fight scene with co-star Puneet Issar at the Bangalore University campus, which almost cost him his life.

In the fight scene, Bachchan was supposed to fall onto a table, but mis-timed his jump. This resulted in an internal abdominal injury. He was transferred to a Mumbai hospital, where according to the actor, he went into a "haze and coma-like situation", and was "clinically dead for a couple of minutes".

While he was in the hospital, there were reports of widespread mourning and prayers were offered by many Indians in the country and abroad. According to reports, Rajiv Gandhi canceled a trip to the United States to be with him.

Bachchan received 60 bottles of blood from 200 donors, one of whom was carrying the Hepatitis B virus. Bachchan recovered from the accident, but discovered in 2000 that the virus had resulted in cirrhosis of the liver, which damaged about 75% of his liver. Bachchan later spoke out about his experience to raise awareness about the Hepatitis B vaccine.[7]

Despite critical injury, Bachchan recovered remarkably and resumed shooting on 7 January 1983. In the final cut of the film, the fight scene during which he got injured was frozen and a message appears marking the scene as the one in which he was injured. Manmohan Desai did this on Amitabh's wish.

Due to Bachchan's injury, the ending was also changed. The original script showed Amitabh dying after Kader Khan shot him. But later on, after the injury-and-recovery episode, Manmohan Desai, thinking that this would have a negative impact on the movie as well as a bad feeling in the audience, decided to change the ending. The modified ending has the hero recover after his operation.[8][9][10]


1."Mujhe Peene Ka Shauk Nahin"Shabbir Kumar, Alka Yagnik06:21
2."Jawani Ke Rail Kahin"Shabbir Kumar, Anuradha Paudwal04:33
3."Lambuji Tinguji"Shabbir Kumar, Shailendra Singh06:03
4."Sari Duniya Ka Bhoj Hum Uthate Hai"Shabbir Kumar05:55
5."Humka Ishq Hua"Shabbir Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Suresh Wadkar05:30
6."Accident Ho Gaya"Shabbir Kumar, Asha Bhosle06:13
7."Mubarak Ho Tumko Haj Ka Mahina"Shabbir Kumar06:37
Total length:41:11

Famous dialogues

"Humari taarif zara lambi hai. Bachpan se hain sar pe hai Allah ka haath aur Allahrakha hai apne saath. Baju pe 786 ka hai billa, 20 number ki bidi pita hu. kam karta hun coolie ka aur naam hai Iqbal"

"Hum mazdooron ka seena lohe ki deewaar hai, aur yeh humaare hathiyaar hain. Yeh humara pet paal bhi sakte hain aur tum jaison ka pet phaad bhi sakte hain".

Box office

The film was an 'All Time Earner', it got the highest verdict (equivalent to 'All Time Blockbuster' today) present at that time by Trade Guide (Bollywood box office magazine), and was among the rare movies which crossed ₹10 million per territory.[2] There were only 13 'All Time Earner' [crossed ₹10 million per territory] movies till 1984, 9 of which starred Amitabh and Coolie was among them.[11] In 1984, it was estimated that the film had sold 70 million tickets.[12]

See also


  1. "Box Office 1983". Box Office India. 15 January 2013. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013.
  2. "Amitabh Movies Verdict (1969–1984) By Trade Guide(Prakash Pange) " Bollybusiness : Bollywood boxoffice 7". Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  3. "Infinity War Dominates - 102 Not Out Slow Start". 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  4. Dwyer, Rachel (2006). Filming the Gods: Religion and Indian Cinema. Routledge. p. 127. ISBN 9781134380701.
  5. "Amitabh Bachchan wanted Rajkumar to act in Coolie". The Times of India.
  6. "Dr Raj Leader of golden era".
  7. Kowshik, Priyamvada (24 November 2015). "I have liver cirrhosis and am surviving on just 25 per cent of my liver: Amitabh Bachchan". India Today. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  8. "Coolie (1983)". IMDb.
  9. Sampath, Parinatha (2 August 2013). "Amitabh Bachchan's near-fatal accident". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  10. Ronamai, Raymond (10 October 2012). "I Was Clinically Dead for a Couple of Minutes, Says Amitabh Bachchan". International Business Times. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  11. "Upto 1984 : Total 13 All time earners, 9 of them starred Amitabh " Bollybusiness : Bollywood boxoffice". Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  12. Mitra, Sumit (31 May 1984). "Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra stand out as remarkable survivors with big budget films". India Today. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
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